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Bible Commentaries

Ironside's Notes on Selected Books

Luke 10

Verses 1-20

The Mission Of The Seventy -- Luke 10:1-42.10.20

“After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before His face into every city and place, whither He Himself would come. Therefore said He unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He would send forth labourers into His harvest. Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves. Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes: and salute no man by the way. And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house. And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it: if not, it shall turn to you again. And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house. And into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you: and heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you. But into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you not, go your ways out into the streets of the same, and say, Even the very dust of your city, which cleaveth on us, we do wipe off against you: notwithstanding be ye sure of this, that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you. But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable in that day for Sodom, than for that city. Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon, which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment, than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven, shalt be thrust down to hell. He that heareth you heareth Me; and he that despiseth you despiseth Me; and he that despiseth Me despiseth Him that sent Me. And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through Thy name. And He said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Nothwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven”- Luke 10:1-42.10.20.

We should recognize the fact that In this entire passage we have to do with a former dispensation, and we cannot carry everything in that dispensation over into the present age of grace. There are, nevertheless, important lessons here from which we may draw help and instruction as we seek today to do the will of God.

We have already seen how the Lord commissioned the twelve apostles and sent them out to the cities of Galilee. Now we read that He appointed seventy others. These did not have the official standing that the twelve had. Their commission was for a limited time only, the period during which they would be going from city to city ere His final rejection by the people of Galilee. He sent them out two and two, because He recognized how much they needed fellowship with each other. The preacher in the book of Ecclesiastes tells us that two are better than one, for if one should fall the other can lift up his fellow; and so it seems to be according to divine order, generally, that Christ’s servants should labor two or more together. One alone might make many blunders and be discouraged, whereas two could confer together and each be cheered and encouraged by the other.

As the Lord contemplated the multitudes who were as sheep without a shepherd, and to whom He desired His disciples to go with the message of the kingdom, He impressed upon them the need by saying, “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few.” He bade them pray the Lord of the harvest that He would thrust forth laborers into His harvest. On another occasion, when He sat at Jacob’s well, after having revealed Himself to that poor, needy woman who had come to draw water, He turned to His disciples and said, “Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? Behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.” That great harvest-field was constituted of the multitude who did not as yet know Him as Saviour, Messiah, and Lord. It is still true, though we live in a different dispensation, that there are vast multitudes, not only in our own land but in all the regions beyond, who need Christ and who are waiting for the messengers of the Lord to go to them with the precious truth of the gospel. We may therefore apply His words to the present time as well as to the past. He still bids us to pray that laborers may be sent out to reap the harvest that is waiting to be garnered.

In Luke 10:3-42.10.7 we have the direct commission given to the seventy. The Lord Jesus said, “Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves.” They were to go in simple dependence upon Him, trusting in the power of God to sustain them, and not retaliating in any way if they were ill-treated. Neither were they to make provision for a long journey, for their mission would be ended within a very short time; therefore He added, “Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes: and salute no man by the way.” It would be folly to take these words out of their connection and make them obligatory upon servants of Christ today. The seventy were sent to the people of Israel; they were Israelites themselves. The nation was waiting for the manifestation of the kingdom, and these disciples were to go forth and proclaim the near approach of that kingdom. They had a right to expect entertainment and consideration from those to whom they carried their message. Because of the shortness of the time they were to hasten on their way, and were not to stop for the customary, lengthy, Oriental salutations. They did not need a large sum of money, extra shoes, nor clothing, because the circumstances in which they were found did not demand such provision. In this we may see how different were the circumstances in which they were placed from those in which the average missionary of the cross is found today.

The seventy had a right to expect to be received by their Jewish brethren as they went to them to declare the presence of the King among them. The Lord said to them, “And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house. And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it: if not, it shall turn to you again.” They went forth to proclaim the coming of the Prince of peace, and their salutation was in accordance with this. If the owner of the house was indeed a son of peace, he would gladly welcome His messengers. In that case they were to abide in this house during the time they preached in that particular city or village. If, however, the son of peace did not dwell there, that is, if there was no one in that home who was ready to recognize the mission of the Lord Jesus and to welcome His messengers accordingly, their peace would return to them, and the owner of the house would have lost his opportunity. Alas! When Christ came to the house of Israel the son of peace was not there, and so we read that, “He came unto His own, and His own received Him not.”

These messengers were not out on a pleasure tour, and so they were warned against anything that would look like selfishness or the pursuit of personal enjoyment. They were to remain in the house where they were received, eating and drinking such things as were given to them, recognizing the fact that the laborer is worthy of his hire. They were laborers in Jehovah’s great harvest-field; it was for his people to receive and provide for them. They were not to go gadding about from house to house, seeking better entertainment. They had a perfect right to expect the people to receive them as the King’s representatives, and therefore they need not feel ashamed to accept whatever entertainment was given them; but they must not give way to indulgence.

During this present age of grace, servants of Christ have no right or reason to expect the world to receive them into their homes or to provide for them in any way; and so this scripture, in the fullest sense, could not be applied to the present day. We read in the Third Epistle of John of traveling brethren, evidently ministers of the Word, who went forth for the name’s sake of the Lord Jesus, taking nothing of the Gentiles. The apostle Paul refused to seek his support in the way of taking gifts from the heathen world. He would far rather labor with his hands in order to properly provide for himself and those with him. Conditions were different while our Lord was on earth and ministering to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. His representatives were not trying to impose upon the people when they accepted the accommodations offered. They recognized that it was in this way the people responded to the message of the kingdom, and so whenever a home was opened to them they were to enter into it and gratefully accept the provision offered. It was the duty of the disciples to emphasize the grace of the King. The Lord gave them special power to work miracles in His name. Their message was ever the same: “The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.”

The Old Testament prophets had spoken of this coming kingdom. They had told of One who was to reign in righteousness, and for centuries Israel had been waiting for His manifestation. Now the King was in their midst, and there were few who recognized Him. One can imagine these couriers going from place to place ministering to the needs of the people, and declaring, ‘The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you,” as the folk gathered together. “The Messiah has already appeared and calls upon you to receive Him. The kingdom of God is about to be established in your midst.” The great majority spurned the message and refused the claims of the Lord Jesus Christ and would not have Him reign over them. They knew not the time of their visitation, and so they lost their opportunity. Because of not entering into the blessedness of the kingdom, the time came when the Lord, as it were, shook the dust off His feet as a testimony against them, and said to them, “The kingdom of God is taken from you and shall be given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.” And for the time being Israel has been set to one side, and there has been brought in an altogether new dispensation. During all this period those who know and love the Saviour are called to represent Him in the world. This is the time when God is taking out from among the Gentiles a people for His name. He is proclaiming peace by Jesus Christ, and though bloody warfare has marked all the centuries since Christ returned to heaven, those who have trusted Him have found lasting peace, even in the midst of trouble. They have proven the truth of the word, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusteth in Thee.” The kingdom is still in the future. The Lord has gone into the far country to receive for Himself a kingdom and to return. Until the day of His Second Advent, His servants are to be busy calling on men to be reconciled to God.

Our scripture deals with a very important time in Israel’s history. It was a time of crisis. Everything depended on the attitude of the people toward our Lord Jesus. Would they receive Him? If not, they must remain in their sins, and they would never enter the kingdom for which they had been waiting. There were comparatively few who opened their hearts and homes to the messengers and their message, but to them came blessing. As for the rest, they were left in their sins. The very dust of their cities was a witness against them. Nevertheless the fact remained that the kingdom of God had come nigh unto them.

In the next few verses we hear the Lord pronouncing the judgments that were to come upon the cities in which He had done the most of His mighty works, which had the best opportunities to know Him, and yet had refused Him. Of all such, He says, “I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable in that day for Sodom, than for that city.” From where He was standing He could probably see the cities of Chorazin and Bethsaida; and as He looked upon them, He said, “Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon, which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes.” These cities, cities which had been blessed by the personal presence of the Lord, and whose people had seen His face, heard the wonderful words which proceeded out of His mouth, and beheld His mighty acts; yet had turned coldly away and even scornfully refused to acknowledge Him as King and Lord. Today Chorazin is merely a ruin, and until recently it could not be positively identified. I remember when traveling in Galilee I noticed some ruins off to one side as we drove down toward Samaria, and turning to my guide, I said, “I see the ruins of a city over there; do you know what city it was?” He was an Arab. He said to me, “That is the city that is called Chorazin in your Bible.” That is all that is left of it, because its people failed to receive the King when He came among them in lowly grace. Bethsaida still remains, but it is a poor, little fishing village on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. I was told it is almost impossible to find a Christian there.

Capernaum was called our Lord’s own city, for there He made His home when in Galilee after leaving Nazareth. Surely the people there, who had every opportunity to become well acquainted with Him, would receive Him. But, no! He sadly exclaimed, “And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven, shalt be thrust down to hell.” It was in Capernaum that the Lord had delivered some of His greatest discourses. The Sermon on the Mount was probably preached on the tableland just back of the city. It was there that He found Matthew the publican, and called him away from the tax-collector’s office to become one of His apostles. It was there that He restored Peter’s wife’s mother to health when she was sick of a fever; and there He raised the daughter of Jairus, and healed the poor woman who said, “If I may but touch His garment, I shall be whole.” Many other wonders had been done in that city, and yet its people rejected Him; and so, though exalted to heaven in privilege, it was to be thrust down to hell, that is, to hades, the unseen world. So completely was this prophecy fulfilled that for over 1500 years no one knew positively the site of the city of Capernaum. It is only within our own times that it has been uncovered. During those long centuries it was covered over with the sands of the desert, and travelers passing by saw only a low mound. But during the time of the First World War, a group of German monks, interned in their monastery on the side of that hill, began to dig in the ground, and little by little they uncovered the ruins of Capernaum. It is just as true of cities as it is of individuals: judgement comes if they spurn the mercy offered to them. It is a terrible thing to trifle with spiritual realities. “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” These words are as true of cities and nations as of individuals.

To refuse to accept the testimony of one who comes bearing the message of Christ is the same as refusing Him. Jesus said, “He that heareth you heareth Me; and he that despiseth you despiseth Me; and he that despiseth Me despiseth Him that sent Me.” We should realize that listening to one of God’s servants as he reads the Word of God is the same thing as listening to our blessed Lord Himself. What responsibility this puts upon us to take heed how and what we hear!

In Luke 10:17-42.10.20 we read of the return of the seventy after they had fulfilled their mission. They evidently had experienced a wonderful time in spite of the indifference of many to them and to their message, for they returned to the Lord with joy, saying, “Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through Thy name.” He saw that they were too much taken up with their own accomplishments-and there is always the danger of those who preach the Word to take too much credit to themselves for any results that follow-but as these disciples talked of the subjection of the demons, Jesus looked forward in spirit to the hour when Satan will be finally cast out of the heavens, and He exclaimed, “I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.” Then He added, “Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” That He meant this to be taken literally is evident from what we read in the book of Acts, when the apostle Paul was cast on the island of Melita. He and his companions had made a fire in order to warm themselves, and a serpent came out of the fire and fastened upon Paul’s hand. He thrust the venomous beast into the fire and was unhurt, due to the preserving power of God over His own when they are actually in His will. This of course is very different from deliberately handling poisonous snakes as some fanatics have done in our day in order to demonstrate their faith.

There is something far more blessed, however, than working miracles. That is the knowledge that one is right with God! The Lord Jesus told these exuberant disciples not to rejoice simply because demons were subject to them, but rejoice rather because their names were written in heaven. This is true of all who have trusted Christ for themselves. All such have their names written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, and these names will never be erased, but will remain for all eternity.

Verses 21-24

The Mystery Of The Incarnation -- Luke 10:21-42.10.24

“In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in Thy sight. All things are delivered to Me of My Father: and no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal Him. And He turned Him unto His disciples, and said privately, Blessed are the eyes which see the things that ye see: for I tell you, that many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them”- Luke 10:21-42.10.24.

It is noticeable that immediately after announcing the coming doom of the cities where most of His mighty works had been wrought, our blessed Lord is said to have rejoiced in spirit. Had He been dependent upon human conditions and worldly circumstances for His joy, as we so often are, He might well have been cast down and depressed when He realized how few there were who seemed to have any heart at all for His message, and who were ready to receive Him as the Messiah. But instead of being discouraged by man’s coldness and indifference, He manifested the truth of the Word most preciously. With glad heart He looked up to the Father with whom He had unbroken communion, and said, “I thank Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in Thy sight.” He was content to know that the purpose of God was being carried out in spite of man’s rejection and enmity. Those who, by their fellows, were numbered among the wise and prudent, had failed to recognize the Messiah when He came in lowly grace, although they professed to be waiting for Him. The Lord’s appearance was not at all what they expected. They were looking for a great and mighty King; they were looking for One who would drive the Romans from the land of Palestine, re-gather Israel and set up His kingdom immediately, sitting on David’s throne. Instead, there walked among them a Man content to live in apparent poverty, with no certain dwelling-place, going about proclaiming the love of God for poor sinners and declaring that He had come to give His life a ransom for many! This was not at all the kind of Messiah these wise and prudent ones expected. And so their eyes were blinded, and their ears were closed against Him. The precious things He declared seemed foolishness to them. On the other hand, there were those in Israel who, as compared with the wise and prudent, were but babes in knowledge and intelligence. But to these simple ones the Son was revealed, and they learned to trust Him and saw in Him the promised One for whom their people had waited so long. This was all in accordance with God’s purpose of grace; and the Lord Jesus fully acquiesced in His Father’s will in this as in every other respect.

In the next verse, which is also found in Matthew’s Gospel, we have brought before us in a very striking way, the mystery of the Incarnation. Jesus said, “All things are delivered to Me of My Father: and no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal Him.” What a rebuke are these words to those theologians who insist upon trying to explain in every detail the union of the human and the divine in Christ. It is quite proper that we should dwell upon what Scripture has declared, but when we attempt to go beyond Scripture, we are almost certain to fall into error; for it is just as true today as it was when Jesus first spoke the words, that, “No man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father.” The union of the human with the divine, the two natures in one Person, is beyond our comprehension. We know from Scripture that our blessed Lord was God the Son from all eternity, one Person of the ineffable Trinity. We know that He came from the glory that He had with the Father before the world was, and stooped in grace to be born into the world of a Jewish mother. Scripture insists upon the fact that this mother was a virgin. He had no human father, and therefore we may say that He was the Son of God in two senses: He was the Eternal Son, one with the Father before all worlds, and He was the Son of God as Man when born on earth. But in Him we see deity and humanity united in one blessed, adorable Person. To explain this is impossible. Faith receives it because it is revealed in the Word of God.

Observe the difference between the statement He first makes concerning Himself and the second statement as to the Father. He tells us that no man knoweth who the Father is but the Son. However He immediately adds, “And he to whom the Son will reveal Him.” Our Lord Himself came to reveal the Father, who, apart from the Son and His revelation, never could have been known. The creation, of course, bears witness to His eternal power and Godhead, as we are taught in the first chapter of Romans, but it was Christ Himself who made known the Father’s name.

This was one of the things hitherto kept secret which the Lord Jesus declared. In Deuteronomy 29:29, we read “The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.” Isaiah writes, “For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside Thee, what He hath prepared for him that waiteth for Him.” This is the passage that the Apostle quotes from the Septuagint in 1 Corinthians 2:9. But he immediately adds, “But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.” Many marvelous truths were hidden in olden times which, since the Advent of our blessed Lord, have been made known to His own. Some of these things He Himself revealed while on earth; others were opened up by the Spirit after Christ ascended to heaven. It is in view of these new unfoldings of divine truths which He came to give, that the Lord Jesus turned to His disciples and said to them privately, that is, He was not speaking to the world as such, but only to His own: “Blessed are the eyes which see the things that ye see: for I tell you, that many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.”

It is a precious privilege indeed to be taken into God’s confidence and permitted to share His secrets. We know how friends on earth delight to share with one another certain secret things which they do not make known to strangers; and so our Lord Jesus looked upon His disciples as His intimate friends, and He delighted to open up to them precious things concerning the divine Fatherhood, the wondrous provision God had made for the salvation of the lost, and the preservation of His own.

It is our privilege today to enter into and enjoy these hitherto secret things, now revealed to faith. We do not need visions or new revelations in order to understand and appropriate them. We discover them as we study the Word of God in prayerful dependence upon the Holy Spirit who inspired the writing of it.

I remember well when I was a young Salvation Army officer, I went home at one time on furlough. My mother and my stepfather lived in southern California on an olive and fig ranch, at a place then called Monte Vista, now known as Sunland. I met a most interesting servant of Christ whose name was Andrew Fraser. He was often called the “Irish Epaphras.” He was suffering from tuberculosis, and had come all the way from Ireland, hoping to find relief from this dreadful disease; but he was so far gone that it was not many months before he went home to heaven. My stepfather had pitched a tent out in the orchard, and he was staying there when I was taken to see him. My mother introduced me. I spent one of the most precious hours of my life, listening to the kindly advice and opening up of the Word of God from the lips of this dear dying man, as he turned from scripture to scripture and brought out precious truths that I had never seen. I finally asked him, “Mr. Fraser, where did you learn all this? Can you suggest some book or books that I could read which would make these things plain to me? He replied, “My dear young brother, I learned these things on my knees on the mud floor of a little thatched cottage in the north of Ireland as I waited on God over His Word. You may read many books and often find nice and helpful things in them, but you will never learn the truth of God in the same way or in the same fulness as you can learn it on your knees over an open Bible.” As I left I felt I had been in the presence of the Lord, for I had listened to one who was taught of God.

What we all need is to take the place of babes, to whom God may reveal His secrets. He delights to fill the hungry with good things, but the rich He sends empty away. If we come to Him self-emptied and wait on Him to feed us, we shall find, by faithful perusal of the Holy Scripture in dependence upon the Spirit, that wonderful things will be made known to us that otherwise we would never see. Time spent over the Word in a prayerful attitude will produce rich dividends in the way of leading us on into the knowledge of Christ and His truth.

Verses 25-27

Self-Righteousness Exposed -- Luke 10:25-42.10.27

“And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted Him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself. And He said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live. But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbor? And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, and went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbor unto him that fell among the thieves? And he said, He that showed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise”- Luke 10:25-42.10.37.

This to my mind is one of the most misunderstood passages in the Gospel records. It is related only by Luke, and he tells it for a very definite purpose. People generally think of the parable of the Good Samaritan as simply setting-forth a lesson in charity and concern for those who are less fortunate than we. Recently one said to the present writer, “I do not need an atonement for my sins. The religion of the Good Samaritan is good enough for me.” He was basing his hopes for eternity upon doing good to his fellow-men, forgetting that on this ground all are under condemnation, for no man, save our blessed Lord, ever truly loved his neighbor as himself. To face the implication of this story honestly is to realize the utter impossibility of obtaining eternal life by doing. We can only be saved by what Christ has done. It is when we realize that we are helpless, like the man dying on the Jericho road, that we are ready to submit to the gospel and receive the salvation the Lord Jesus came to make possible.

While we should recognize the fact that the Lord was seeking to awaken the lawyer’s conscience as to his responsibility to his neighbor, yet it is evident that there was something far more than that in His mind. During the early ministry of our Lord, He made clear to His followers the principles that should guide them as they looked forward to the setting up of His kingdom. It was in order to show a lawyer his need of a Saviour that He related the parable of the Good Samaritan. What we have before us is the story of a man who was trying to maintain his own righteousness and did not recognize his lost condition. We are told, “Behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted Him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” The lawyer who asked this question was not a sincere inquirer. He was endeavoring to draw Jesus into a controversy as to the Law of Moses, which declared that he who obeyed its precepts should live, and he who violated them should be accursed.

By the term “lawyer” is meant one who was an exponent of the law of Moses: that is, one who was well versed in the Old Testament Scriptures, particularly the Pentateuch, and who was therefore looked upon as an authority by the people generally. I suppose we would be right in saying that he would answer very much to an accredited doctor of divinity in our day. He should have known, therefore, that no man could ever obtain eternal life by keeping the law of Moses, because no man had ever yet been found who had fully obeyed its holy precepts.

Jesus answered him by asking, “What is written in the law? How readest thou?” Jesus never attempted to argue with one who was unreal. He, in this instance, put the lawyer on the defense, as it were, leaving it to him to answer his own question as far as he thought he could. In this way the lawyer would expose his own attitude toward both God and his neighbor. This was exactly what took place. The law was given to show up the corruption of the human heart, to give sin the specific character of trangression, and to make manifest the utter helplessness of any natural man to obtain salvation by human merit, and to convict of their folly all who, being ignorant of God’s righteousness, are going about to establish their own righteousness. The question comes with terrific force: “What is written in the law? How readest thou?” If conscience be in activity the law must fill the soul with terror as one realizes his utter inability to reach the high standard it sets forth. Apparently the lawyer had no such exercise, for he unhesitatingly replied, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself.” In so replying, the lawyer epitomized the two tables of the law, according to Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18. It was a sad commentary on the state of his soul that he could recite these words so glibly and yet evince no sense of his own lost condition. Who has always lived up to these commands? Yet failure in one point puts man in an utterly hopeless state so far as satisfying the law’s demands is concerned. The Lord Jesus calmly replied, “Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.” It was a sharp thrust with the two-edged sword of the Word of God, but it made little impression on the smug, self-righteous heart of this lawyer. Yet it was but insisting on that which the law demanded, and because of which it became the ministration of death (2 Corinthians 3:7) to all who were under it. Had there been any true conscience-exercise, the lawyer would have confessed that he had violated the law already and he would have inquired if there was any way by which he might be delivered from its curse. Instead of this, he attempted to justify himself by asking, “Who is my neighbor?” It was a telltale question! It showed up the true state of this man’s heart. Think of one who hoped to gain eternal life by his doings, who could be so indifferent to the needs of suffering humanity all about him that he had not yet discovered the neighbor needing his love and care! And yet he might better have asked, “Who is my God?” For if one does not love his brother, whom he has seen, he can have no real love for the God he has not seen (1 John 4:20). It was in reply to this question that the Lord related what is commonly called the parable of the Good Samaritan. Undoubtedly it was a story of fact, for we need to remember that our Lord Jesus Christ was Himself the Way, the Truth, and the Life. It is unthinkable that He would make up an illustration which had no factual foundation, even in order to press home a definite line of truth, unless He made it clear that He was doing this, as on some occasions when He said, “Hear a parable.” In this case He speaks very definitely of a certain man who went down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell among thieves who wounded him and robbed him, stripping him of his garments and leaving him half-dead by the wayside. In this man we may see pictured unfortunate victims of sin and violence of every type, whose lives have been wrecked and ruined by adverse circumstances, and whose plight should excite the pity and give the urge to help, of every kindly-disposed person. But in telling this story it is evident that Jesus had more than this in mind. The stricken man on the Jericho road is a vivid picture of all men in their natural state, who have been robbed of their comparative innocence and purity and now are helpless and defiled, unable to regain their former state, needing one who can save them from their sin and the consequences thereof.

We next read that by chance (or, rather, coincidence) there came down a certain priest, who looked upon the man and then passed by. He represented the spiritual side of the legal covenant. He saw the afflicted man, but evidently feared to defile himself by touching- one so near to death and polluted with his blood (Leviticus 21:1). So “he passed by on the other side.” Next a Levite came. He seemed to be more interested in the poor, wounded victim of the thieves, for we are told that he “came and looked on him,” but again we read that he “passed by on the other side.” He represented the manward aspect of the law, but he did not consider it part of his duty to assist one in so deplorable a condition. How possible it is to be intensely religious, devoted to some church or society, and yet have no real exercise of heart for those who are in trouble and distress, or who are perishing in their sins. The Levite was presumably a servant of God, dedicated to ministering in Israel, but in his self-conplacency he ignored the need of the poor, dying wretch, lying on the Jericho road. God grant that all who profess to be servants of the Lord Jesus Christ may ever remember that we have a great responsibility, not only to preach the gospel, but, as much as lieth in us, to do good unto all men.

Finally help came from a most unexpected source. The Jews had no dealings with the Samaritans. A certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, saw the man in his wretched condition and had compassion on him. This was almost the last man in the world from whom the poor, wounded Jew had any right to expect mercy. But the Samaritan’s heart was filled with sympathy for the helpless sufferer. When the Jews sought to express their contempt for Jesus, they called Him a Samaritan (John 8:48). It is easy to see in the one who succored the dying traveler, a picture of our blessed Lord Himself, who came to us when we were in our sin and need, and manifested His boundless grace toward us.

The Samaritan bound up the wounds of this poor man, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn. Using the best remedies he knew, the Samaritan proved himself a real neighbor to the afflicted one. He did not leave him by the roadside, but took him to an inn where he might have proper care. It is an interesting fact that halfway between Jericho and Jerusalem, there remains to this day an inn which is commonly known as that of the Good Samaritan, where travelers may rest on their way up the long incline from the Jordan valley to the city of the Great King.

Nor did the Samaritan’s interest in his patient cease when he had brought him to the inn, but ere he left to go on his own journey, we are told that “he took out two pence,” that is, two denarii- Roman coins about the size of our twenty-five cent piece, but with the purchasing power, in those days, of many times that amount. He gave the money to the innkeeper and bade him, “Take care of him,” promising to meet all further charges on his return, Note his exact words-”When I come again, I will repay thee.” How suggestive this promise is! Does it not remind us of the fact that our blessed Lord, who has gone back to heaven, is coming again, and when He returns He will repay for everything that has been done for Him.

One can imagine the object of the Samaritan’s bounty growing stronger day by day. As his strength increased, we may think of him as going to the entrance of the inn and looking up the road expectantly. If someone inquired for what or whom he was looking, I think he might have replied, “My friend, the one who was such a good neighbor to me in my need; the one to whom I owe my life. He said, ‘I will come again.’ I am waiting for his return. I want to fall at his feet and express my gratitude for what he has done for me.”

To the lawyer the Lord Jesus put the question, “Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbor unto him that fell among thieves?” It was indeed a searching inquiry, designed to manifest the selfishness of the lawyer’s heart and cause him to realize that he was the man on the Jericho road needing Someone who could deliver him from the plight into which his sin had plunged him. But alas! He had no such realization of his need. He replied, “He that showed mercy on him.” No thoughtful man could have answered otherwise, and so the lawyer convicted himself out of his own mouth. Jesus simply enjoined him, “Go, and do thou likewise.” He left the lawyer then to his own thoughts. Had he been an upright inquirer, he would have acknowledged that so far as obtaining eternal life by law-keeping was concerned, his case was hopeless, for he had violated it already and was under its curse. If he had maintained a right attitude toward God, he would never have been indifferent as to his neighbors. There was no evidence of conviction, for otherwise he would have exclaimed, “I am that man on the Jericho road-I am the one who needs mercy.” And then Jesus would not have pointed him to the Levite or the priest for help, but would have said, “I am come to seek and to save that which was lost; I can heal your soul and undertake for you. I have come to give eternal life to all who put their trust in Me.”

Legal religion can do nothing for a man already fallen and defiled. The priest and the Levite represented the two tables of the Law, Godward and manward, but once broken, they become a ministry of death and condemnation. Jesus Himself bore that condemnation and died in our place, the Just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God. Thus He has manifested Himself as able to meet every need and to save for eternity all who put their trust in Him.

Verses 38-42

Service And Communion -- Luke 10:38-42.10.42

“Now it came to pass, as they went, that He entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard His word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to Him, and said, Lord, dost Thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: but one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her”- Luke 10:38-42.10.42.

The certain village into which Jesus entered was, as we know from other scriptures, Bethany, where Martha and Mary lived. Their house seems ever to have been open to the Lord. He had a peculiar love for these two devoted sisters and their brother Lazarus. How blessed is the home where Christ is always welcome, and where loving hearts delight to entertain so wondrous a Guest!

Martha was evidently the elder of the two sisters, for we read, “A certain woman named Martha received Him into her house.” She seems to have been recognized as the owner of the house. Attempts have been made to identify Mary, the younger sister, with Mary Magdalene, or with the otherwise unnamed woman of the Seventh of Luke, but there does not seem to be any valid reason for this. There is nothing to indicate that Mary had ever been an unchaste woman or one who had been demon-possessed. In the three definite instances where she appears in Scripture, that is, here and in John 11:0 and 12, we see her as a contemplative worshiper, to whose heart the blessed Lord was unspeakably precious. There is not the least intimation that she had ever been a woman of bad character, although like everyone else, she was a sinner who needed to be saved by grace divine. In Luke 10:39 we read that, “She (Martha) had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard His word.” Mary delighted to take the seat of a learner. She revelled in the truth Christ came to reveal, and found her chief joy in sitting at His feet. To some she would seem to be dreamy and impractical, but Jesus appreciated her deep interest in His message and her love for Him. This is most precious. It may well speak to our hearts. Nothing is more important for the child of God than to spend time at the feet of Jesus, pondering over His Word. It is in this way that we grow in grace and in the knowledge of Christ. So Mary becomes an example to us all. You may say that she should have been helping Martha with the dinner. Ah, but the Lord would rather have her sitting at His feet. You remember when He sat at Jacob’s well and the disciples had gone for food. Then there came the Samaritan woman to whom He ministered the Word, which became, in truth, the water of life to her thirsty soul. What joy it was to Him to minister to her deep need and to unfold the riches of God’s grace to her in such a way that she forgot her waterpot for love of Him and went back to the city to evangelize its men! When the disciples came back they expected to find Him so hungry that He would be ready at once to eat of the food they had brought, but He seemed utterly indifferent to it. They asked concerning Him, “Hath any man brought Him ought to eat? Jesus said unto them, “My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to finish His work.” It was satisfying to Him to have met and saved a poor sinner. And it should be meat for us to sit at His feet and learn from Him. Then we can go forth and feed others. But Martha did not understand, and so she said to Him, “Lord, dost Thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? Bid her therefore that she help me.” We are told Martha was “cumbered about much serving.” It is so easy to become burdened with our daily responsibilities and neglect to spend time at the feet of Jesus. “And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things.” I think there must have been real sympathy when He repeated her name and referred to her worry and anxiety that He should have a well-cooked and tasty meal. He did not blame her for serving, but that was a small thing compared to sitting at His feet. “Mary,” He declared, “hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” This was the one thing needful, or one thing whereof there is need. It was not personal salvation to which He referred, or which drew Mary to His feet. The one prime necessity is to be subject to Christ in all things. This was what characterized Mary, and this He would have her continue to enjoy. In other words, Mary delighted in communion with Him, and thus she was pleasing to His great loving heart. He longs for the fellowship of His people.

“Low at Thy feet, Lord Jesus;

This is the place for me;

There I have learned sweet lessons,

Truth that has set me free.

“Free from myself, Lord Jesus,

Free from the ways of men;

Chains of thought that once bound me

Never will bind again.

“None but Thyself, Lord Jesus,

Conquered this wayward will;

But for Thy grace, my Saviour,

I should be wayward still.”

I am ashamed to say that in a very busy life, I have not spent nearly as much time at His feet as I should, but every hour spent there has meant far more than time spent in any other way.

I remember hearing of a dear father who had lost his wife. She had left him one daughter, and he loved to have her with him; but being a busy man they could have only their evenings together. He would come home from work, and after dinner they would spend several hours together, and one or the other would read; then she would play and sing for him. He found his greatest solace in the company of his darling child. It was getting along towards the end of the year, and the daughter said to him one evening, “You will excuse me tonight, father; I have something I should do in my room.” The next night it was the same thing, and the next, and the next, much to his disappointment. But he had to get used to it, and he did not like to ask her what she was doing that she had to leave him alone. Finally it was Christmas morning, and she came into his room and called, “Merry Christmas, Dad!” She handed him a pair of crocheted slippers which she had made for him. He said after he had thanked her, “I would much rather have had you with me all those lonely evenings than to have these slippers, beautiful and comfortable as they are.” I think our Lord says that to us. We are trying to please Him by much serving, but I am afraid He will say to many of us, “You have spent so many hours in service when I would rather have had you at My feet. You were not there when I wanted to share many secrets with you.” May we learn more and more the blessedness of communion with Him!

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Bibliographical Information
Ironside, H. A. "Commentary on Luke 10". Ironside's Notes on Selected Books. 1914.